How to make earnings beat so great

images-28AIG (AIG)  beat Wall Street’s profit estimates as CEO Peter Hancock continued executing his plan to simplify the insurance behemoth and return more capital to shareholders amid pressure from activists.

AIG’s after-tax operating profit of 98 cents a share in the three months through June compared with an average estimate of 92 cents from analysts in a Bloombergsurvey. On a net basis, including tax adjustments, discontinued operations and capital losses, the New York-based company posted net income of $1.9 billion, or $1.68 a share, compared with profit a year earlier of $1.8 billion, or $1.32 a share.

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“AIG’s second-quarter results show strong improvement towards all the goals the board and I announced in January,” Hancock, said in a statement. “We have executed more quickly and smoothly than expected and our confidence in reaching our 2017 financial targets is high as our earnings become more sustainable.”

The insurer jumped 2.84% to $55.68 after the bell Wednesday, paring its year-to-date decline to about 10%.

AIG, which missed analysts’ projections last quarter, saw its return on equity jump to 8.6% from 6.8% last year and touted a 7% cost reduction due to “lower employee-related expenses” as Hancock works to reduce overhead by $1.6 billion within two years.

The company also returned $3.2 billion of capital to investors through buybacks and dividends, for a total of $7.9 billion so far this year, driving toward its plan to return $25 billion to investors. On Tuesday, AIG’s board authorized repurchases of $3 billion — taking its total buyback authorization to $4 billion — and declared a quarterly dividend of 32 cents a share.